Transgender people wanting to join the US military can now do so openly, despite President Donald Trump’s efforts to bar them from serving in any capacity in the military.
Starting January 1, the Pentagon has allowed transgender people to enlist in the military, provided they meet certain physical and medical criteria. The admission of transgenders into the military marks a failure for President Trump who had announced in late July in a salvo of tweets his decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military, highlighting “the burden of huge medical costs” and “disruptions” .
With that announcement, the President wanted to essentially revoke the decision of his predecessor Democratic President Barack Obama, who had decided during his presidency to allow transgenders into the military by July 1, 2017. Trump’s Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had, however, postponed the date to January 1, 2018.
Donald Trump then signed a document at the end of August ordering the Pentagon not to recruit transgender people “in any capacity whatsoever”, but he had left the Department of Defense to decide the cases of those who are already enlisted.
A group of civilian and military experts from the Pentagon is examining the issue and is expected to make new recommendations to the US president by the end of February.
Meanwhile, several court decisions have suspended Trump’s ban, with some judges considering it unconstitutional.
Last week, the Justice Department said it would not ask the Supreme Court, the highest court in the US, to prevent transgenders from enlisting, removing the last legal hurdle to the entry into force of Obama’s decision.
“As required by law, the Department of Defense is ready to incorporate transgender candidates into its armed forces,” said commander David Eastburn, a spokesman for the Pentagon.
“All candidates must meet the current criteria,” he added. All transgender candidates who have undergone sex reassignment surgery must submit a medical certificate showing that the last operation was at least 18 months old and no further intervention is required. In addition, candidates must show that they have “stabilized in the desired genre for 18 months,” said the Pentagon spokesman.
For Joshua Block, of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), “this is a victory for our country and for all the brave men and women who are transgender, who want to serve their country, who have the will and the capacity”.